Lafarge Tarmac’s Dr Bill muses on the uses of concrete
Concrete is the most utilised building material in the world, with the exception of water, and cement and concrete are often associated with big-ticket construction projects (or even megastructures) such as bridges, dams or sports stadia. Yet, let’s remember that the use of cement is not restricted to large projects alone, it has many uses on smaller, approachable scale.
Looking around the house and garden, it is easy to miss the contribution made by cement to the domestic environment. Take a brick wall as an example (either house or garden); the dominant feature is the bricks themselves, but walls are constructed of both bricks and mortar. Indeed, mortar for brickwork and blockwork is the major use of packed cement in the UK. Mortars are also often used for pointing patio slabs as it helps to keeps the weeds down.
Using concrete for the floors of extensions or for shedbases is a simple, practical way of producing a solid base, with the added advantage that it is more resilient to flooding than a more traditional raised timber floor. (As an aside, once again as I write this blog, it is pouring with rain!). Cement-based mortar is also very handy for small repairs or sealing gaps around pipes and vents in walls.
In the garden, cement-based materials are used for fixing fence posts, building garden paths and even creating garden ponds. These are tasks that householders are increasingly prepared to take on themselves, rather than engage a professional. Most manufacturers are producing a wide range of packed ‘ready to use’ products targeted at this growing sector of the market.
It should be clear that the small-scale applications of cement and related products are many and varied; we can expect this part of the market to increase with time.
So when selling cement and other packed cement based products, think of the small picture. Customers are no longer restricted to the professional builder; cement is a key ingredient for a range of small jobs, bringing a new type of customer into the store.
Follow Bill on Twitter @ConcreteDrBill